Army Strong!

On June 21, 2010, I was out enjoying a break from Army training life... hung around a tattoo parlor while a friend got "inked" and I had a mild throbbing headache all day long. I chalked it up to the Georgia heat, popped about 10 ibuprofen that day. I decided to tag along with a few fellow soldiers-in-training and enjoy my first beers since I joined the Army, back in February 2010. I went outside to smoke a cigarette (yea yea, I quit since then) and when I stood up it was instantaneous massive pain like an ice pick in the eyes and left side of my head, then I violently vomited... totally exorcism-like... scary... after three beers? And they were Miller Lite too! (Yea, that's enough to make anybody vomit when you're a Guinness Girl, like me. =) Anyways... I just didn't feel right at all. I knew I was not drunk, but I was walking sideways. I was confused, freezing cold, but sweating like a cowboy in Texas! I went back to the barracks that night and cried myself to sleep.

I woke up for formation at 0800 and couldn't look above... my eyes hurt to move. I went back to sleep and woke up at 1200 and went to the Sergeant on CQ duty and told him something just wasn't right and I needed to go to the hospital right now! Thankfully he took me. See, there are a great many of new... young, soldiers in-training that use injuries to get out of physical training, or having to do a lot of physical activities... even a stubbed toe will get you out of push-ups, and they know it, and use it to their advantage. Thankfully the Sergeant didn't question me... after all, I was 38 at the time, and a good soldier.

I went to the emergency check-in and when asked what I did the night before I was treated like I was an idiot and probably had a hangover, even after telling them I had only three beers. Well, I do not remember the Dr. taking me back for an MRI or CT scan, but I do remember him coming back into the room and telling me, with a very sullen look, that I had three aneurysms. I laughed. Huh? Ummm... what's that? He wouldn't allow me to get out of bed. I needed to get a phone and call my husband! I was told there was no neurologist at the Army Hospital, so I had to be transported to Augusta University… where my life was saved by Dr. Ellen Shaver!

I was diagnosed with having two aneurysms and a cerebral hemorrhage and needed emergency surgery. They were going to clip them. I do not know how large they were, but I can tell you from the pictures that one was huge… it looked like a small to medium grape in the scan, the other was, or seems to be, about as large as the diameter of a pencil eraser but it bulged in length, so it was about as long as the entire eraser, with the metal grip.

It was really nice to know I meant something to some people I'd only known such a short time… My LTC (LTC=Lieutenant Colonel) and SGM (Sergeant Major), whom I had only met in passing once before, came to visit me, along with a few other soldiers and my Platoon Sergeant, SFC Washington (one spectacular NCO – Non Commissioned Officer – what Enlisted personnel are called). I made them laugh so hard… I joked that I was going to tease the Dr. after surgery and pretend to have Tourette’s Syndrome, and I kept saying “$#!*” and “F^@&” . It was so good to see them laughing because they had such sad faces… strange to see on faces of Soldiers… seasoned Soldiers at that!

Well, after lots of poking and prodding, drilling, and cutting… and half of a shaved head later (my beautiful hair was long – about 14 inches… it’s growing back beautifully, now it’s nearly 8 inches on the one side... I can get it in a bun beautifully – better than most who just flop it in a make-shift bun with hair sticking out and sprayed all over the place – all sloppy… grrrrr!)

Well, I came out of surgery, I was ready and raring to go! I wanted to get up and walk around, but the Dr. says, “are you nuts?” I didn’t want to be confined to a bed – I wanted to know I was okay by seeing I could do the same things I had done prior to the brain surgery. I was in ICU for three weeks. My husband was at my bedside almost the entire time… I know he was annoyed and irritated – heck, who isn’t after being in a hospital for just one or two days!?!? It was wonderful having him there… and I think it was for my kids too… then they got first-hand knowledge that I was really going to be okay.

The Dr. gave me the option to take 30, 60, 90 days of convalescent leave, and I chose 30… getting back and finishing Army training sooner rather than later, meant I would complete the training and be back home with my family sooner rather than later. Going back home was wonderful. I was back in my bed! While I would like to say I slept-in, I can’t. I slept for two hour stints as a time. =( I LOVE sleep and was hoping to sleep past that dreaded 0400 (or the crack of o’dark thirty as we call it). I gained so much weight from being on the Keppra! I went from 110 to 138 in one month. I had no energy, and couldn’t even go up and down the stairs unless I did it on my butt. I used to do 60 push-ups and 60 sit-ups and ran two miles in 17:42, but not anymore. I can barely do 25 push-ups and 45 sit-ups (because when I fall back I have to do it by dropping back and not using stomach muscles, so I can do more… I get instant headaches from sit-ups now. I can do the 2 mile run, but thankfully, at the age of 40 (almost 41 now) I can only run it in 22:00… it is so hard getting the numbers back up – even two years post op. I have a hard time concentrating and remembering things (“CRS”, right Ron?) and I have some spots or “floaties” that are in my left eye (surgery was right behind my left eye) but you know what? I AM ALIVE!!!

The Army let me stay in and didn’t medboard me out, they believed in me, and I wanted to prove to them I could do it! I can get a paycheck every month for the rest of my life, but I want to be a Soldier in the greatest Army for the greatest country in the world! I have seen all of my very beautiful daughters graduate high school (Maggie, my baby, graduated with Honors this year – I wasn’t surprised… she was allowed to skip Junior year and has always been in advanced placement classes, but when they called her name, they preceded it by saying: “with Honors… Margaret Ann Campbell!” Oh, man!!! I was the proudest Mother there!!!

God gave me another chance to live. Another chance to be the best mother I could be. Another chance to see my perfect, amazing, beautiful granddaughter grow up, and hopefully many, many more to come!


Thank you, Lord, for all that you have given me… including this second chance.


I have posted a few pictures.., one of me in my ACUs, another of me post-op, and another of my CT scan that shows the big one that bled into my brain.

Sorry this go to be so long, but I have time on my side. =) God bless you all!

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Hi Marie,

Thanks for sharing your amazing story. Thanks be to God for his healing power and all of those he put in your life to help you get the treatment you needed.

Take care.

Carole

hi Marie! awesome story! thanks for the "crs shout-out" /see you remembered!!! i have now communicated w you in 3 or four diff avenues!!! i am full of crs even on my good days!!!lol. seriously tho-nice to make your aquantenance and - so glad you survived and thankful you are here w us-have a great, blessed Sunday

Wow Marie,

I am so glad you are alive!!! LIke many of us, it was very touch and go for you!!! I am proud for you that you got to return and keep going!!! God bless you and your family!!!!!!

I have that CRS too!!!! Had to get five things today at the store and my husband showed me nose (kleenix), mouth (finger pointing in...fish pills), and wiping mouth (napkins)....the other two I had to remember on my own....got stuck trying to remember what I was to do after the finger pointing in.....but I got them all!!!

Thank you, Carole! =D

You know it is so strange how God works; I truly believe that he "tests" us with such challenges to see how we react; whether our belief and faith will increase, or if we find ourselves trusting more in a state of self pity and question if He exists. I may not be able to 'see' the air that I breathe, but I sure know it is there... I look at my life, my beautiful children and perfect angel granddaughter and there is no way He could not be... I am truly blessed!

Ron - you are just too funny! You had me rolling the other night!! What a good evening it was to share online with new friends. I may not be here often, but I always have you in my thoughts and prayers. Don't you dare let dust collect on that Telecaster, young man!!! If playing chords is too difficult, maybe you should consider picking up a bass...? =) I'll get a video camera for my computer and sing you a few songs! Have a fantastic week, my friend.

Thank you, Tera! Yes, CRS should be a medical term for aneurysm recovery... it's so darn true! You go to the kitchen to get a drink, and when you open the fridge, you like: what was I getting? or you go into the bathroom and... helloooo... what do you THINK you were gonna do in here??? hahahaha! I am glad you are recivering well, or so it sounds. One day at a time, Tera... all good things come to those who wait, and wait, and wait. =) God bless YOU and YOURS as well.

Hi Marie

Hi Marie

What a fantastic story and so well written. It actually brought a tear to my eye.

Thanks for sharing and I wish you the best in your military career and your life.

Chris

Hi Anny! How are you?

Thank you, Chris! Brought a tear to your eye? Tears of joy, right? =) I'm not any more unusual than all of us here. We are survivors of a different breed, yes, but we are tough, strong, blessed, and fortunate to be given another chance - some of us more than just "another chance" and they are the unusual ones... whew! To go through all of it again would be living a nightmare... I pray my good health keeps me here a little while longer... who else could torture and nag my daughters better than me?!!??!! =) God bless!!